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IN WORDS: “Every great F1 season is marked by a great rivalry” – Toto

IN WORDS: “Every great F1 season is marked by a great rivalry” – Toto

Battle continues with Round Nine of the 2017 season from the Spielberg Circuit

'There is great respect between Mercedes and Ferrari'

Every great Formula One season is marked by a great rivalry. Last year it was our internal battle between Lewis and Nico and this year it seems that the fight is on between Ferrari and Mercedes and Lewis and Sebastian. As calm as it started, it was only a matter of time until the rivalry would eventually become more fierce and controversial. That moment happened in Baku and we saw the results of that tension on track.

We have moved passed that moment now and it is a closed chapter. The hearing on Monday was between the FIA and Sebastian and it reached the conclusion we have all seen. Our focus since Baku has been on our own shortcomings, reviewing both the design and procedures around our headrest which cost Lewis the win two weeks ago.

There is great respect between Mercedes and Ferrari, two iconic motor racing brands, not only because of the challenging battle on track but because we are pushing for the same goal: to see Formula One flourish. The new owners could hardly have asked for a better start to this new era than this epic battle between Mercedes and Ferrari. Add to the mix a Red Bull team that can win as well and it makes Formula One into a great spectacle.

'We are making progress, step by step'

We have made a step since Monaco in understanding what it takes to make our car perform. The sweet spot is still difficult to find – but we are starting to do so more regularly. Clearly, we are not the only team who took time to understand the combination of the new regulations and tyres – but we are making progress, step by step. And we must continue to do so in the next two weekends to maximise our points score.

It is always special to return to Spielberg and my racing roots. As a young racing driver, I did my first laps at the old Oesterreichring, so the circuit will always be close to my heart. Since those days, Dietrich Mateschitz has invested impressively into the facility and the region and it’s a source of pride for Austria to have this world class circuit in our country.

Happily, it has been positive ground for Mercedes over the last three years. But we cannot rely on our historic success rate in Spielberg because the regulations are brand new. We start again from the ground up on Friday morning and will aim to come out of the blocks well in FP1. In a season as close as this, we have to if we are going to be on the top step at the end of the year.

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